An Affiliate Marketing Action Plan: The 5 Cs Approach

Note from Geno Prussakov: I am excited to welcome our newest guest blogger, UK-based Simon Swan. Enjoy his first AM Navigator post below.

As affiliate marketing continues to mature as a key digital channel to support an organisations acquisition strategy, it is important to have an actionable plan in place to support your program and having set objectives in place to help drive the campaign in order to meet key business goals.

Research, know, identify

For any campaign there are three key features you should look to set the foundations for a successful affiliate strategy: Research the Market, Knowing your Audience & Identify your USP – i.e. how will your affiliate campaign stand out from your competitors?

With this in mind, I have put together an affiliate marketing 5 Cs campaign to follow to ensure you’re campaign can deliver the results

1. Competitor Analysis

Ensure you are assessing the market you are operating in and identify any new affiliate campaigns being launched by the competition


Key actions:

  • Listen to your market – Set up and monitor your competitors and associated keywords through free tools such as Google Keyword planner and Google Alerts.  Monitor review websites, affiliate forums and use Social Media tools to listen to the market, views and opinions of customers and affiliates of your competitor programs.
  • Have a performance benchmark? – Key indicators to consider when completing your competitor analysis include: commission tiers, size of their affiliate base, are there any corporate publications that provide a breakdown in how much revenue their affiliate channels generate?
  • Exploit Gaps/Opportunities – From the SWOT analysis, a number of gaps & opportunities should now be identified and should provide you with a strategy. Defining a Gaps and Opportunity analysis  can be very effective if you’re operating in a crowded market place and are looking for a way to stand out to recruit affiliates to your program.
  • Points of Differentiation – Look for the opportunities, what are your competitors not offering the market that you could exploit and take advantage of to boost the appeal of your affiliate program?
  • Surveys – Set up online surveys to send to potential affiliates who sign up to your program and also ask the 3rd party affiliate program to see if they could communicate this to their wider pool of affiliates. Be prepared to offer an incentive or competition prize as a means to drive users to complete the survey – this acts as an effective tool understand the potential, opportunities and to create new incentives

2. Commercials

Ensure your program is competitive and worthwhile for affiliates to sign up to and invest their time and effort to remain loyal to your program


Key actions:

  • Override fee –The majority of affiliate networks charge a 30% override which is based on the commission you are prepared to pay your affiliate base.
  • Tiered Commission Levels – As your program matures, you should be looking to segment your affiliates by revenue (or what the objective of your program is) so to clearly incentivise the affiliates or to easily identify clusters of affiliates that may need more time and support on understanding how to best optimise their performance. As much as it is with the lead affiliates, it is also important to incentivise the “long tail” of your affiliates.
  • Bonus – Introduce “Bonus level” commission tiers to help sell through end of line products or If you’re a retailer that produces “own brand” products, you may well have more margin to play with by offering a higher commission level.

3. Creatives

Create a portfolio of banners – Understand your affiliates and what’s needed to promote your campaign


Key actions:

  • Know your affiliate community – According to Econsultancy 55% of affiliates consider text to be the most effective linking method with banners (36%) and datafeeds (25%) also voted the most popular form of promotion
  • Banner sizes – Ensure you’re providing a rich mix of banner inventory for affiliates to use on their sites – these can be generic based or targeted around key products/services as well as promotions being run through your seasonal campaigns.
  • Keep it fresh – Make sure you’re keeping your creatives fresh and updated – there is nothing worse in seeing banners promoting out of stock products or Christmas promotional creatives being run in July!

4. Communication

Make yourself approachable to your affiliate base to deliver a successful program


Key actions:

  • Open to questions – Get into the habit of communicating with your affiliates as well as the  affiliate network  and better still, face to face so you can build up a good working rapport.
  • Extended Workforce – Your affiliate base should be regarded as an extended work-force of your organisation, they should be supporting you to deliver on the objectives you’ve set and thus should be treated as an internal member of staff.
  • Introduce an Open Day – Launch an annual open day at your offices – Invite your affiliates to come and visit you and the team, introduce them to your product lines, future plans and product promotions you have planned for the year. The key here is to really get their buy-in and that they feel part of your business.
  • Keep the buzz alive – Never let your program become boring and out-dated! – keep up interest levels by running competitions and interesting, topical information on your organisation and the sector you operate. Easy to do plans such as an events or editorial calendar should help to stimulate your team to continue to keep communication going through-out the year with your pool of affiliates.

5. Campaign Analysis 

What are you going to monitor and measure?


Key actions:

Below is a list of KPIs that should be considered to assess the effectiveness of your campaign with the objective to generate sales:

  • Active affiliates – those driving key objectives of the campaign e.g. sales, leads, visits
  • Inactive affiliates – those no longer promoting the campaign, left the program
  • Potential affiliates – those no longer driving positive performances based on their historical sales or leads
  • CTR (Click-through Rate) – the total number of ad clicks divided by the total number of ad impressions
  • Impressions – the total number of times your ad is shown. This is a good metric to understand the effectiveness of a banner creative
  • Conversion – the total number of visits divided by total number of sales generated
  • Average Order value – of sales through the program

2 thoughts on “An Affiliate Marketing Action Plan: The 5 Cs Approach”

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